Ake Independent Mental Health Expert Requirement Not Met by Appointment of a Mental Health Professional from Court's Psychiatric Center

Powell v. Collins, 332 F.3d 376 (6th Cir. 2003)

The Sixth Circuit ruled a defendant convicted of murder and sentenced to death had been denied his right to psychological assistance and effective assistance of counsel during the sentencing phase of his trial and remanded the case for a new penalty proceeding.  Prior to trial the judge ordered an evaluation of the defendant by a clinical psychologist from the court's psychiatric center.  Defendant's counsel requested that a mental health expert be appointed to assist counsel in understanding the reports generated. This request was rejected.  The defendant was subsequently found guilty by a jury.   Counsel then moved to hire a neuropsychiatrist to assist counsel at the mitigation phase.  In response the court engaged the psychologist who had conducted a pretrial competency evaluation but refused to grant a continuance of the sentencing hearing to allow for additional testing even though the  psychologist admitted she was not equipped to conduct the necessary testing for this phase of the case.  At the sentencing hearing, the psychologist stated she was not given sufficient time to conduct an appropriate investigation and tests and was not "equipped" to conduct the necessary neuropsychological testing for this phase of the case....

Found in DMHL Volume 23 Issue 1